Conrad Mwanawashe Business Reporter
GOVERNMENT and its co-operating partners have drawn up a comprehensive logistics system to manage the importation and distribution of grain.The system will be superintended by the National Grain Importation Logistics Task Force.
Zimbabwe is expected to import more than one million tonnes of grain following low agricultural yields, a result of normal to below normal rainfall received last year.
To ensure smooth movement, Government and its partners’ logistics arrangement stretches from receiving of grain at various ports in the region to transportation into Zimbabwe and movement of the grain locally.
Government, through the Grain Marketing Board has also mobilised local road transporters to ensure efficient movement to grain deficit areas.
In written response to The Herald Business, the Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development, Joram Gumbo said the Government has mobilised both the private and public sectors to ensure that grain is moved as quickly as possible to the deficit areas.
Minister Gumbo said the logistics plan involves transportation of grain by road and rail from the port into Zimbabwe through Machipanda for grain offloaded at the port of Beira; through Chicualacuala for grain offloaded at Maputo and through Beitbridge for grain offloaded at ports in South Africa.
Trains will deliver grain at the GMB depots from where it will be loaded onto trucks for internal distribution.
“To this end, two public sector players have been advised to ready their trucks to ferry grain from GMB depots to grain distribution centres. These are the Road Motor Services (Pvt) Ltd, a transport operator wholly owned by Government and the District Development Fund.
“DDF has pledged a fleet of trucks with capacity ranging from 7-10 tonnes. In addition they have also tractors on standby should any distribution points require such kind of services,” Minister Gumbo said.
RMS and DDF are also members of the Internal Grain Distribution and Logistics Tasks Force which is co-chaired by the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works and the Ministry of Rural Development and the Preservation of National Heritage.
The two entities will be complemented by private sector players some of whom may also complement the National Railways of Zimbabwe on the cross-border movements should the need arise.
Minister Gumbo said the NRZ is geared to carry out its bulk transportation mandate and has partnered other regional rail carriers to enhance its capacity.
As such, NRZ and Zambia Railways have capacity to move 1 000 tonnes a day, the national rail carrier has also an undertaking with Caminhos de Ferro de Moçambique to move a further 1 000 tonnes a day through Beira.
NRZ and CFM (South) and Transnet Freight Rail will pull resources to import up to 4 000 tonnes a day through Maputo while the rail company will pool resources to import up to 2 000 tonnes a day from South Africa.
“Further, there is additional capacity to move grain especially to the southern regions from South Africa through Beitbridge, Bulawayo Railway (Pvt) Ltd who also have ample capacity,” Minister Gumbo said.
“To ensure a smooth flow of grain and to minimise disruptions to existing arrangements, GMB and the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development as well as the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare remain critical in the entire grain importation and distribution process.
“For this reason, GMB has a list of private transport operators who wish to participate in grain distribution for drought mitigation. The GMB transporters’ list has 21 operators with a total combined fleet of 427 trucks and capable of moving 12 810 tonnes of grain,” he said.
Transport operators on the GMB list will be engaged to complement DDF and RMS for the movement of grain to distribution centres so as to guarantee complete coverage of all deficit areas.